Corinne Fenet, lay Marist, comments on the six paintings in the fresco that is above the tomb of Father Colin, founder of the Society of Mary (see Regards maristes, No. 32, autumn 2016).
1-Mary at the Annunciation:
I look at the angel.
Upright: he is there and yet he comes from elsewhere.
Heavenly being. He brings the light.
Mary is kneeling. Eyes wide open.
‘I am the servant of the Lord. Let it be done to me according to your Word’.
The Word which already grows inside her womb. Spreading itself.
The opposite of an infant all tucked up.
2-Mary at Nazareth…
The heavenly being and the light have disappeared.
But three still remain: the number of the relationships within the divinity of God.
Mary, Joseph and their child. An ordinary family.
‘As for Mary, with great care she stored up all these things in her heart.’
And let’s not forget while contemplating the icon, that it is the icon who first contemplates us. Mary is introducing us to her child. She is offering it to us. And here we are caught in history, transformed into Simeon or Anne. In shepherds or mages. Will we embrace the child Mary is giving us?
3-Mary in Jerusalem…
But already the child has evaded their grasp. Already he is elsewhere. Neither Mary nor Joseph are there. They look for him.
‘My child, why have you done this to us? See! Your father and I have been desperately searching for you. Why were you looking for me? I must be here in my Father’s house’.
Who is this other Father whom the Son claims to represent? Is he blotting out his own mother so that we no longer see her in the picture?
4-Mary at Cana…
The birth of the Church, the birth of the disciples, our birth. He really does need our earthenware jars. Needs the tastelessness of our water so as to make the wine for the feast. We do not make it.
Mary says to him: ‘Do whatever he asks of you’.
For the feast. Will we allow ourselves to do ‘whatever he asks’?
5-Mary at Golghota…
…and on the dark day of evil. Kneeling as on the day of the Annunciation. The annunciation of the birth. Think! Only 33 years: that is nothing for a mother!
From the welcoming of his life to the mourning of his death. 33 years. Only. She still does not know, this ordinary woman, that the wood that she grips has a completely different character than that of the cradle. The one made by Joseph. She does not know: but still she has complete confidence. What she does know, through the instinctive knowledge of a mother, of a mother watching her child dying, is that if he is no longer there …. then he is elsewhere.
The cross is already empty.
It is the moment when she who has given so much, like her son, is given to us. Through her son she is entrusted to us. Thus, she will take care of us. So that, in our turn, we would take care of all who suffer. ‘Here is your mother’.
6-Mary at Pentecost… She stands up.
Risen in her turn. First of the disciple. Radiant with joy. She opens her arms to welcome us. She raises her arms to lead us. She lifts her arms to invite us to sing. Once again she sings the Magnificat. She no longer has any need of the angel, the bringer of light. She herself is the light.
Now the disciples come out from the darkness.
From the darkness of death and of fear. From the darkness of the cross. They also have risen.
Lights in their turn.
Following her first-born. And those reborn. Will we be reborn with them?